I had a recent conversation with a group of young people at a leadership roundtable. As we went around the table, each shared about success and failure as it related to using their time wisely each day. Some people acknowledged their tendency to procrastinate while others talked about the pressure of deadlines. Throughout the conversation, the one thing crystal clear to all of us was this: it’s often a struggle to get stuff done.
When it comes to my own productivity and growth, I find myself struggling in two key areas:
1. I am not sure what to do next.
2. I know what to do next but I’m not sure how to do it.
Each of these areas can paralyze a person into inactivity. It is the uncertainty that keeps me in a holding pattern. I think this all relates to the way we approach the goals in our lives.
If you’ve followed my journey on this blog for any length of time, you probably know I am a big fan of P90X. P90X is an extreme, personal fitness program that you can do in the privacy of your own home. It works. It gets results. The reason I found P90x so effective for me was in the way it directly addressed the two areas I listed above. First, it is a detailed plan specifically laid out for a 90 day period. I always knew what I needed to do next. Secondly, each exercise was demonstrated in a variety of ways through video. I never had to figure it out on my own.
Here’s the thing – I’ve had a gym membership before. Most of the time, I would walk in and wander and wonder through a workout. I didn’t have a plan…I only had an idea. P90X allowed me to focus on the most important thing: working out (hard).
Perhaps you have your own example of success when it came to accomplishing a goal. For me, I’ve found the following strategy (which I call “The Three W’s”) to be paramount in accomplishing the tasks and projects that I both need and want to get done.
Get the idea, dream, or task out of your head and onto paper. Make it visible to you. Put it in a place where you can see it everyday. This gets things going. This moves a goal past the “think it” stage. So many people have a good idea or something they hope to accomplish. These are actually called “wishes.” Writing down a goal begins to cement your good intentions into an actionable plan. In fact, I would encourage you to spend more time thinking about a goal after you’ve written down. This leads me to the next part of my strategy.
Every goal has a price tag attached to it. Goals also have a different priority. Take the time to consider the costs, anticipate the obstacles, and get your mind right. When I considered doing P90X, I had to prepare myself. It would cost me money, time, and a lot of energy. I had to make choices about whether or not it would all be worth it (it was!). Too many people write a goal down, yet never take the time to think through all of the consequences and ramifications that go along with accomplishing the goal.
It’s so important to think through the different roadblocks you will face in accomplishing your goal. Of course, you can’t foresee everything. But you can determine if you have the perseverance and determination to see this thing through. Taking the time to weigh your goal, even in the midst of accomplishing it, is part of the growth that occurs within you through the journey of achieving it.
A goal takes work, effort, and perhaps, the help of others. Writing a goal down is helpful. Weighing the goal in your mind is crucial. But too many people start the process of considering goals and never do the hard work necessary to complete them. Identify the timelines and deadlines necessary to accomplish your goal. More than that, figure out what you must do on a daily basis to move a little closer each day. Journal about your progress. Make appointments on your calendar dedicated to doing the work.
For me, P90X was the process I used to accomplish the goal of getting in better shape and feeling healthier. I took a fitness test at the beginning and wrote down every stat. I had a plan. I spent a lot of time preparing my heart, mind, and body for the 90 day journey. All of the writing and weighing were helpful assets for the one thing that gave me results: working (and in this case…working out).
Whatever your goal, the three W’s can be applied to your situation. They’re just tools. The results will come in the way you use the tools.
I would love to hear how you’ve used one of the three W’s in your own journey and how it led to the accomplishment of a goal in your life. Share your story with us in the comments below.
What if you could lead yourself better in such a way that it helped you lead others better?
Leadership Starts With You is just what you need to kickstart the process.
(Available on Kindle & Nook)